PNP says most murder victims are drug personalities, not innocents

Bea Cupin
PNP says most murder victims are drug personalities, not innocents
The PNP says that while all murder or homicide cases deserve investigation, people should see the difference between innocents killed and drug suspects killed

MANILA, Philippines – “Imagine the lives we save.”

The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday, December 27, unveiled a new digital billboard located just outside its headquarters in Camp Crame, that features a running tally of their accomplishments in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

As of December 27, the billboard boasts of 1,326,742 “number of drug dependent captured or surrendered.”

The figure represents the PNP’s goal to account for – either through arrest or surrender – 70% of the country’s 1.8 million “current” drug users. It also includes some 2,000 drug suspects killed in police operations since July 1 and another 147,756 drug personalities arrested or killed from 2010 to June 30, 2016 – during the last administration.

Since assuming office, Duterte waged a popular but controversial war on drugs.

Although the law states that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency is the lead in anti-narcotics operations, it’s the PNP that’s taken the spotlight – for better or worse – in the drugs war.

Police have been accused of resorting to summary killings in the name of the drugs war, a claim Dela Rosa has vehemently denied.

In the 6 months since the crack down on illegal drugs began, the PNP has claimed a decrease in all types of crime. When it comes to murder and homicide, however, the figures are slightly higher – around 18% more than the same period last year.

“We admit that while the general picture of crime is going down, murder is up. All other crimes went down – crimes against property, robbery, riding-in-tandem… but murder went up,” said national police chief Ronald dela Rosa in a press conference on Tuesday.

But Dela Rosa, who has led the PNP since the war on drugs began, said people should not just look at the numbers but the identities of those killed in recent months.

“Before, when you’re talking about murder, it’s people who are innocent. They are victims of drug-crazed people who committed crimes. Now most of those killed are drug personalities. That’s the very big difference,” said Dela Rosa in a mix of English and Filipino.

He added: “Those are still people and that’s still murder that needs to be investigated. But people should appreciate the difference between the innocent and the drug personalities.”

There have been cases, however, of people who were apparently innocent but were killed and later labelled as drug personalities. (READ: In the name of the father)

The administration has claimed that most crimes – including murder, rape, and even crimes against property – are linked to illegal drugs but have yet to show data to back this up.

The PNP lists down 4,049 victims of vigilante-style killings with possible links to illegal drugs. Those cases are considered “deaths under investigation” by the PNP. Dela Rosa has said in the past, however, that only 1,000 or so of those victims were proven to have actual links to illegal drugs. –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.